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Am J Public Health. 2005 May;95(5):790-9.

Passive immunization against poliomyelitis: the Hammon gamma globulin field trials, 1951-1953.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, School of Public Health, PA 15261, USA.


Poliomyelitis has gone from being one of the worst scourges of the 20th century to nearing eradication in the 21st. This success is well known to be attributable to the Salk inactivated and Sabin attenuated poliovirus vaccines.However, before introduction of these vaccines, William McDowall Hammon of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health led the first major breakthrough in prevention of the disease by using passive immunization in one of the earliest double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials. This study provided the first evidence that antibodies to poliovirus could prevent the disease in humans.

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